In this module, you will create a page that showcases examples of your best work in the same way that artists might exhibit their work. We want to give you a chance to focus on the amazing artifacts you’ve created during your graduate studies (projects, papers, etc.) in a way that presents your work thematically, creatively, and effectively.
You will also learn about Mid-Semester Feedback—formal feedback you receive from your instructors—that will happen during Modules 7 and 8. This is an important check-in point as your portfolio should be approaching half done.
- Review Last Week’s Feedback – Before you start on your new task, make sure you review your feedback from last week. Taking the time to make adjustments each week will lead to a more helpful review of your overall portfolio from peers in their Flipgrid feedback and instructors during mid-semester feedback.
Things to Keep in Mind for your New Assignment – As you design your work, keep the following in mind:
- Consider your Audience – A showcase should be tailored to your audience. For example, if portfolio is intended primarily for teachers, think of examples that will directly connect with other teachers? If you’re aiming for a technology coordinator job, consider closing artifacts that show the range and diversity of your technical skills.
- The Rubric – Make sure that you align your showcase to our standards, rubric, and common issues for showcases. Which are always available at the bottom of every assignment page under “Elaboration”.
- A Work in Progress – You do not have to finalize your Showcase now; the goal in this course is always to get something working first and to continue to refine it based on feedback.
- Need Inspiration? – Consider a few examples of showcases from past semesters, including: Karle Rewarts, Aimee Muscoe, and Paul Mazurek
Make your Showcase Page through the following steps
- Gather Artifacts – Eventually, you will need at least 8 artifacts, but for now, gather what makes sense. Go back through your projects, papers, presentations, and any other artifacts you have created while working on your master’s degree. You might start with your favorites or the artifacts that you had the most impact on your classroom.
- Look for Themes – When you present your artifacts, you want to present them thematically, or based upon some categories. Look for two or three themes (or categories) that describe your artifacts and could help organize your showcase. You might try grouping them in a few different ways (around different themes) before you find “just the right way.”
- Write your Introduction – Make your showcase page by writing some text that introduces the page and the artifacts to come. Tell readers (briefly) what a showcase is and how you chose to organize it (i.e., what your themes and/or categories are). If there’s anything readers need to know about your master’s program or artifacts to understand this page, tell them now as well.
- Present your Artifacts – For each artifact, there should be a link to the whole artifact as well as a 2-3 sentence description of what the artifact is and what is meant to exemplify (e.g., your skills in creating a technology-rich literacy lesson for special needs children).
- Video Reflection and Feedback – You know what to do by now. Post a video reflection that talks about your work, and add two pieces of feedback, using this Flipgrid. Fill out all the fields! Remember that posting good reflections and providing feedback is is an important part of this course – Full posting description and rubrics are below in “Elaboration” if you would like more guidance.
- Learn about Mid-semester Feedback – In Modules 7 and 8, we will provide Mid-Semester feedback — formal feedback you receive from your instructors. Read about it here so you understand what is coming.
- Reminder – Your 2nd Piece of Flair is Due by Module 8 – Your second piece of flair is due at the end of Module 8. You can turn it in anytime by clicking on the Pieces of Flair link and following the instructions.
Each assignment in this course is important for developing your abilities to design and implement your portfolio. There are 100 total points assigned in this course; the specific assignments in this module will count towards your grade as follows:
- (Up to 1 point) – Creating a Showcase and posting the link in Flipgrid on your video reflection
(Coming up) – You have to complete a Tech Check sometime before the end of Module 10. This requirement is worth 2 points and is explained in “Elaboration” below.
- (Coming up) – The quality of your video reflections and video feedback in this module will be self-accessed (with some guidance) in Module 11. There, in Module 11 you will give yourself between 0 and 5 points for your efforts across Modules 6 through 11.
As you design your Showcase, please use the following standards to guide your work. These represent the particular criteria that your instructors will be looking for and giving you feedback on at mid-semester and final grading.
- Compelling Introduction – Does the introduction to your showcase explain its purpose and organization?
- Compelling Mastery – Do the categories and artifact descriptions in your showcase emphasize your professional skills outside the master’s program?
- Organization – Are the elements of your showcase in a logical order, and are they effectively organized on the page?
- Multimedia – Do you effectively use text, images, links, and other webpage elements to make an argument with your showcase?
- Completeness – Does your showcase include at least completed 8 artifacts?
- Acronyms – Remember that people outside your program or workplace might not understand all the terms and acronyms you use. It’s always a good idea to “spell out” an acronym the first time you use it, and you should also consider defining terms that aren’t commonly used.
- Removing Course-Specific References – We know that all of these artifacts came from class assignments, and perhaps that is how you think of them. Using language like “Our professor required us to” or “For this assignment, we had to” makes you look like a dutiful student but doesn’t enhance your professional credibility. Consider using phrases like “In this slideshow, I…” and “I created this video in order to…” to help emphasize the high quality work you created.
- Use Categories – We have found that one effective way to organize artifacts in the showcase is to use of a number of categories that represent the areas of specific focus.
- Separate Artifacts – Remember that the emphasis of the showcase is on individual artifacts, not on individual courses. Please do your best to make it easy for your visitors to see where one artifact stops, both conceptually and on the page, and another one starts!
When you post and reply in this course, please pay attention to the following guidelines. These are guidelines also form the basis for the rubric used to grade your discussion contribution.
What makes for a good post?
It depends on the specific assignment, but the following generally apply:
- Pay attention to the prompts
- Use a good portion of the 3 minutes allotted to you.
- Show us what you’re thinking and why you’re thinking it.
- When sharing your own work, point to some places where people who respond to you might be most helpful in giving you feedback.
What makes for a good feedback?
Good feedback is important in all design activities, including the design of portfolios. It is especially important in this class. When giving feedback, keep in mind that good feedback is:
- Thorough – Use a good portion of the 3 minutes allotted to you. Try to cover as many aspects of the assignment that you can—do not focus on only one thing. However, don’t try to cover too much, because each point you make should have some details (see next point).
- Specific – Avoid generalities like “you had a good design,” and instead be more specific, like “Your headers are easy to read, clear, and helpful in breaking up text into more manageable pieces.”
- Critical – Point out what needs improving. Even if you’re looking at the best piece of work, you can give the author something to think about working towards or thinking about differently.
- Supportive – Point out what is working well. Even the earliest of drafts is the start of something good that can be highlighted as a success.
Finding ways to meet face-to-face in an online class can be tough, but we’ve found that it’s worth it, especially for your exhibition in Module 11. To make exhibitions go smoothly and to give you some additional opportunities for face-to-face feedback, we require you to check out the Capstone Coffeehouse technology at least once by the end of Module 10. In short, the Capstone Coffeehouse is Zoom – the video conferencing software we use in this course.
You can find some general information on using the Capstone Coffeehouse here. To fulfill this requirement (and get your points), you must specifically do four things:
- Check video: Make sure that your webcam is working and that you (and others) show up on the screen when you join the Coffeehouse. This should happen automatically.
- Check audio: Make sure that you can hear other people in the Coffeehouse and that they can hear you. Zoom, the Coffeehouse technology, should ask you for permission to use your speakers and microphone once you join. In a few cases, though, this takes a little fiddling to get it to work properly.
- Check chat: Make sure that you know how to open the chat window in Zoom (the Coffeehouse technology) and that you can read and write messages properly. If you’re using the Zoom desktop client, the Chat button should appear at the bottom of the Zoom window.
- Check a page: You (and each of your classmates) should take a few minutes to share a page that you’ve recently completed. If possible, make this a Piece of Flair page, but you really have free range on what you’d like to look at. Have some specific questions and concerns in mind: What are you trying to accomplish with this page? What are you still struggling with? This is a great chance to “practice” for the end-of-semester exhibitions and to get some more face-to-face feedback, which capstone students consistently point to as one their most valuable experiences.
For most people, the Tech Check is a quick and easy assignment, but problems do occasionally occur. If you are experiencing frustration with the Tech Check, keep in mind that it’s better to experience this during the Tech Check than during the exhibition! Also, please remember what you had to do to get past the difficult spots, just in case they come up again.
There are two ways to complete the Tech Check: through office half hours or with a classmate.
Office half hours (if you prefer to talk to instructors)
In addition to talking about your portfolio during an office half hours session, you can carry out the Tech Check with the instructor who is running office half hours. Just mention that you’d like to take care of your Tech Check, and she or he will walk you through the steps and make sure to give you the points!
Classmate (if you prefer to talk to your fellow educators)
The great thing about the Coffeehouse technology is that it is available 24/7. If one of the office half hours sessions doesn’t work for you or you would prefer to meet with a classmate instead, you can schedule a time to meet with a classmate in the Coffeehouse and take care of the Tech Check on your own. Walk through the four specific steps listed above, and once you’ve made sure that everything works for all of you, send us an email to let us know that you took care of everything. While this should be a short email, please include enough detail that we know who you worked with and that you walked through all four steps together.
In the Capstone Course, we believe in the power of peer feedback. Reynolds (2009) argued that students’ peers are capable of pointing out things that would have never occurred to their instructors, and we’ve repeatedly found that to be true as we’ve taught this class! However, we also know that the opposite is true: While we do our best to make our expectations and grading process clear to everyone during peer feedback, we also know that sometimes there’s no substitute for having the instructor look over your work. We’ve done our best to follow your progress thus far in the course, but mid-semester feedback is our time to give you some more thorough feedback.
Starting in Module 7, we will go through your whole portfolio, evaluate the pages according to the descriptions and rubrics that we’ve shared with you, and give you detailed feedback through the Showcase. If possible, we’ll also look over anything else you’ve completed by the time we get to your portfolio. You will not receive a grade based off of your mid-semester feedback. This is formative assessment. As we explained at the beginning of the semester, we believe strongly that this course should be about starting with just “something” and improving it as you go along, and we feel that grading your work at this stage of the course would contradict that philosophy. However, we will be thorough and very detailed as we evaluate the elements of your portfolio as they currently exist, and we will be using the same rubrics that we use to grade your portfolios at the end of the semester. Please keep in mind that this is not necessarily a complete and exhaustive list of ways to improve, just a round of feedback.
We want to use mid-semester feedback to make it clear what our expectations are and what you may still need to do to meet those expectations. So, please take mid-semester feedback seriously! There are two main ways you can do this:
- Be as close to complete as possible: The more you have done, the more we can evaluate. It’s not the end of the world if you still have a few things to add to your Showcase (after all, it won’t count against your grade), but it does give us fewer opportunities to guide your thinking and your work.
- Take our feedback to heart: This is ultimately your portfolio, and we hope that you will truly make it yours, even if that means tossing out some of our requirements once the course is done. However, since this is your final project for an entire master’s program, we do have some specific expectations about what should be included and how it should be done. Please take our evaluation and feedback seriously—it will help all of us (especially you!) save some time and effort at the end of the semester.
In Module 9, we’ll ask you to read over your mid-semester feedback and reflect on it.
Reynolds, A. (2009). Why every student needs critical friends. Educational Leadership, 67(3), 54-57.
Most of the weekly course modules ask you do a number of concrete activities that help you build toward your final portfolio. These may include making a single webpage or posting some feedback to fellow students. We try to be very explicit with what will be getting graded in each module.
The Flipgrid assignments, while important, are ultimately less than a third of your overall grade in the course (see the syllabus for the full grading breakdown). Even then, the emphasis there in not on the quality of your portfolio work, (the style of your resumé, for example) nor its completeness. That will happen later—at mid-semester feedback, final exhibitions, and final feedback. Instead, we focus on whether you posted a link, and made some good faith effort on the assignment by the deadline and are able to report that.
In summary, we believe it is better to get something for a assignment posted on time (like a draft of a resumé) and to improve upon it as we go than to wait for everything to be perfect. There will be time to revise and improve later.
Why create a showcase?
Have you ever felt like your were only doing work to “get things done?” Have you ever wondered who—outside your classmates and instructors—would ever see what you have been creating along the master’s journey? This is your chance to address those questions! We want you to identify your best, favorite, or most compelling work and showcase it so that others may know what you have been doing and are capable of creating.
Why organize the artifacts around themes?
Perhaps a collection of eight objects alone could give someone an idea of your work quality and ethic, but we think that if the work is organized around themes or ideas, it will be much easier for an outsider (your principal, your colleagues, your students, your family, etc.) to better understand the great work you have done. Thus, we ask you to consider how to group your pieces (both thematically and physically on the page) to best highlight your hard work. This can be done in a variety of ways, so let your creative juices flow!
The end is near! Congratulations on nearing the completion of your master’s degree! For many students, you will graduate at the end of this semester. Others will graduate next semester. Often students need to know how quickly they can get proof that they have completed the degree so they can provide this to their school district office, etc.
Grades in the course are submitted within 72 hours after the official end date shown in the course catalog. Even if you’ve finished all your work, we cannot submit individual grades.
Applying for graduation
You must apply for graduation in the semester you plan to graduate. This step triggers the “final certification” review of your program.
If you plan to graduate at the end of the semester, be sure to submit the graduation application found at https://www.reg.msu.edu/StuForms/GradApp/GradApp.asp as soon as you are able.
Diplomas will be mailed 4-6 weeks after the end of the semester. If your employer is requesting that you obtain documentation of degree completion, please follow the instructions in the Graduation Information section of the MAED website or MAET website.
For those of you who can come to campus to participate in graduation ceremonies, commencement information can be found at http://commencement.msu.edu/.
MAED students, visit the MAED FAQ: http://www.educ.msu.edu/content/default.asp?contentID=1071#graduate
MAET student: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for specific steps.